BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – The Virginia Lottery Board granted Hard Rock Bristol a license to operate Virginia’s first casino Wednesday, but documents revealed several new details about the casino.
A presentation to the lottery board said the permanent Hard Rock Hotel & Casino would open in Summer 2024 at a total cost of $400 million.
It announced the permanent hotel and casino would employ over 1,200 people. Gaming options included 1,500 slots, 55 tables, and a sportsbook.
Amenities include a 300-room hotel, five restaurants, four bars/lounges, a live concert venue and a gift shop.
Several new renderings of the hotel were included in the presentation.
The presentation also announced several local partnerships with Bristol businesses including Southern Churn, Blackbird Bakery, Sexton’s Bristol Artisan, Greene’s Seafood and the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.
Hard Rock announced Wednesday that with its license now in place, a temporary casino would open in the former Bristol Mall July 8.
Bristol, Virginia Mayor Anthony Farnum said the opening of what will be Virginia’s first casino is an opportunity to show what the city is all about.
“This is going to be one of the most important days in the history of Bristol as far as economic development projects,” Farnum said.
The temporary casino will house 870 slots, 21 tables and a sportsbook. It will employ 600 people, Hard Rock said.
Behind a construction fence, plenty of trucks and workers could be seen getting the site ready for the grand opening.
Farnum hoped the city could reap the benefits of being Virginia’s only casino while that window is still open, but said the economic benefit of the casino goes far beyond Bristol.
A new gaming revenue tax will be split among 12 Southwest Virginia counties.
Bland, Buchanan, Dickenson, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise and Wythe Counties will all receive a cut of the revenue.
“Some of that gaming tax revenue is going to be spread out equally among other localities in Southwest Virginia. I think school systems, hopefully first responders, other localities will benefit from that,” Farnum said.
Bristol itself also stands to benefit from casino revenue.
Bristol Chamber of Commerce President Beth Rhinehart said new businesses are contacting the chamber constantly.
“We get calls if not daily, weekly from companies who want to relocate here because of the casino,” Rhinehart said.
Rhinehart said the casino could be a bonus for Bristol’s other tourism generator: Bristol Motor Speedway. She said Hard Rock and BMS leadership have met to discuss potential partnerships.
“Having package deals for example and package opportunities for people who are traveling to do both of those,” Rhinehart said. “That increases that attraction and that draw for more than just a couple days maybe to staying three or four, five days a week.”
Rhinehart said once the hotel is completed, it would open the door for those extended stays year-round, which would be a boost to local businesses.
Until then, Farnum still expects the temporary casino to attract people to Bristol.
“We’re so perfectly positioned between bigger areas like say the Washington D.C. area, Atlanta, Nashville, Cincinnati,” Farnum said. “We’re very excited to get the doors open first and really experience what it’s like to have more visitors coming here.”
Hard Rock’s presentation to the Virginia Lottery Board can be found at this link, by clicking on the “Gaming Update” for the board meeting on 04/27/2022 under the Virginia Lottery Board Presentations section.